Small Iowa Town's Mayor and Police Chief Among 5 Officials Charged in Alleged Embezzlement, Fraud Scheme

IA Officials Arrested: Greg Bumm, Tracie Lang, Craig Miller
Emmett County Sheriff's Department

Among those arrested, Mayor Greg Buum, police chief Craig Merrill, city clerk Tracie Lang, and former city clerks Connie Thackery were charged with felony and misdemeanor offenses in a 21-count joint trial information, Emmet County sheriff said in a state

 A small Iowa town's mayor, the police chief, a city clerk, and a former city clerk were all arrested for allegedly stealing money, falsifying records, and strong-arming civilians, officials said.  

Armstrong Mayor Greg Buum, Police Chief Craig Merrill, city clerk Tracie Lang, and former city clerks Connie Thackery and Mary Kate Staton were charged with a felony and/or misdemeanor offenses in 21-count joint trial information approved by the Emmet County District Court, the Emmet County sheriff said in a statement.

Buum, Merrill, and Thackery are charged with ongoing criminal conduct, a class B felony, while the top count against Lang is a fraudulent practice in the first degree, a Class C felony, the statement said. 

Staton is charged with one count of theft in the third degree and one count of tampering with records, both aggravated misdemeanors, in two-count trial information approved by the Emmet County District Court

On Feb. 11, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office filed the charges that stem from a multi-year investigation led by the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Division of Criminal Investigation and Auditor of State’s office.

The investigation allegedly uncovered incidents including, but not limited to, misappropriation of city funds, the presentation of fraudulent public records, deploying a TASER against a civilian in exchange for cash, and falsification of ledgers to conceal embezzlement, the statement said. 

When Inside Edition Digital reached out to the Mayor’s office, the police chief, and the city clerk’s office, they each responded with “No comment.”

State prosecutors have taken over the case due to a local conflict of interest. Additional arrests are pending, the statement said.

With a population of 880, the city of Armstrong, in Emmet County, is the 322nd largest city in Iowa. The average household income is $51,703 with a poverty rate of 11.74%